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Russia Jails Financier For Central Banker's Murder

Frenkel in Moscow City Court in February
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A Russian financier has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering the murder of a top Russian central banker who led a campaign against money laundering and corruption.

Prosecutors said Aleksei Frenkel had acted out of revenge when he ordered the killing of Andrei Kozlov, the 41-year-old deputy head of Russia's Central Bank who had revoked the licenses of Frenkel's bank.

Kozlov was shot dead in September 2006 as he left a soccer match in Moscow.

It was one of the most high-profile killings of Vladimir Putin's 2000-08 presidency, reviving memories of Russia's wild capitalism and contract killings of the 1990s.

"I believe the sentence is just, in line with the law and well-founded," state prosecutor Gulchekhra Ibragimova told journalists after the trial.

Prosecutors had originally asked the court to jail Frenkel, 37, for life. But Ibragimova said the sentence was reduced because he had apologized to the judge for his behavior during the trial, during which he at one point accused the prosecution of slandering him.

"Actually, for Aleksei it does not make any difference whether it is 19 years or life in jail," said the financier's father, Yefim Frenkel.

"We all saw how he listened to his sentence. Not a single muscle moved on his face," he told reporters.

Along with Frenkel, six others were sentenced to various prison terms for their role in Kozlov's murder.

The assassin who shot him and his driver was jailed for life and another man who shot only at the driver was handed 24 years in prison. The other four were sentenced to between six and 14 years.

The court also ruled that the seven found guilty must pay Kozlov's father a total of 10 million rubles ($364,000) "to make up for moral and material damage."